Year to date

Yahoo reports that Berkshire B shares ended last year at $299.00, and ended yesterday at $268.51.
So, the price is down -10.20% year to date.

But life isn’t quite that simple.
The US dollar has soared. The US index is up 16.2% against a basket of other currencies (trade weighted).
When your measuring tape stretches, you get smaller numbers when measuring the same piece of wood.

Berkshire shares also trade in Europe.
Quoted in Euros, the price is up +4.17% year to date.

On he one hand it shows that any one currency is a bit illusory as a yardstick.
But it’s a real phenomenon…the amount of general purpose global purchasing power represented by the total revenues of Berkshire (which are mostly in US dollars) is up quite a bit.

An interesting corollary is that US inflation is in some senses much higher than it seems.
A lot of things have risen in price measured in US dollars, and the dollars themselves are more expensive.
Measured in global purchasing power (how much “stuff” you could get for the same money in the average location),
a coffee in New York is probably something like 20-25% more expensive than it was a year ago.

This is probably a transient phenomenon.
Inflation goes hand in hand with the falling value of a currency, so it’s mainly a difference in timing.
But, in this interval, it’s real.

Jim

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